Making two Unix permissions mistakes in one
Today's state of work-brain:
umask 077 /tmp/fred
Immediately after these two commands, I hit cursor-up to change the
umask' to '
chmod', so that I then ran '
chmod 077 /tmp/fred'.
Fortunately I was doing this as a regular user, so my next action
exposed my error.
This whole sequence of commands is a set of mistakes jumbled together
in a very Unix way. My goal was to create a new
that was only accessible to me. My second command is not just wrong
because I wanted
chmod instead of
umask (I should have run
umask before the
mkdir, not after), but because I had the wrong
set of permissions for
chmod. It was as if my brain wanted Unix
to apply a '
umask 077' to the creation of
/tmp/fred after the
fact. Since the numeric permissions you give to
umask are the
inverse of the permissions you give to
chmod (you tell
what you don't want instead of what you do), my change of
chmod then left
/tmp/fred with completely wrong permissions;
instead of being only accessible to me, it was fully accessible to
everyone except me.
(Had I been doing this as root, I would then have been able to
into the directory, put files in it, access files in it, and so on,
and might not have noticed that the permissions were reversed from
what I actually wanted.)
The traditional Unix
umask itself is a very Unix command (well,
shell built-in), in that it more or less directly calls
This allows a very simple implementation, which was a priority in
early Unixes like V7. A more sensible implementation would be that
you specify effectively the maximum permissions that you want (for
example, that things can be '755') and then
umask would invert
this to get the value it uses for
umask(). But early Unixes took
the direct approach, counting on people to remember the inversion
and perform it in their heads.
In the process of writing this entry I learned that POSIX
supports symbolic modes, and that they work this way. You get and
set umask modes like '
u=rwx,g=rx,o=rx' (aka '022', the traditional
friendly Unix umask), and they're the same permissions as you would
chmod. I believe that this symbolic mode is supported
by any modern Bourne compatible shell (including
zsh), but it
isn't necessarily supported by non-Bourne shells such as
rc (which is my shell).
Some ways to get (or not get) information about system memory ranges on Linux
I recently learned about
lsmem, which is
described as "list[ing] the ranges of available memory [...]". The
source I learned it from was curious why
lsmem on a modern 64-bit
machine didn't list all of the low 4 GB as a single block (they
were exploring kernel memory zones, where the
low 4 GB of RAM are still a special 'DMA32' zone). To start with,
I'll show typical
lsmem default output from a machine with 32 GB
; lsmem RANGE SIZE STATE REMOVABLE BLOCK 0x0000000000000000-0x00000000dfffffff 3.5G online yes 0-27 0x0000000100000000-0x000000081fffffff 28.5G online yes 32-259 Memory block size: 128M Total online memory: 32G Total offline memory: 0B
Lsmem is reporting information from
Both the sysfs hierarchy and lsmem itself apparently come originally
from the IBM S390x architecture. Today this sysfs hierarchy
apparently only exists for memory hotplug, and there
are some signs that kernel developers aren't fond of it.
(Update: I'm wrong about where the sysfs memory hierarchy comes from; see this tweet from Dave Hansen.)
On the machines I've looked at, the hole reported by
authentic, in that
/sys/devices/system/memory also doesn't have
any nodes for that range (on the machine above, for blocks 28, 29,
30, and 31). The specific gap varies from machine to machine.
However, all of the information from
lsmem may well be a
simplification of a more complex reality.
The kernel also exposes physical memory range information through
/proc/iomem (on modern kernels you'll probably have to read this
as root to get real address ranges). This has a much more complicated
view of actual RAM, one with many more holes than what
/sys/devices/system/memory show. This is especially the case in
the low 4G of memory, where for example the system above reports a
whole series of chunks of reserved memory, PCI bus address space,
ACPI tables and storage, and more. The high memory range is simpler,
but still not quite the same:
100000000-81f37ffff : System RAM 81f380000-81fffffff : RAM buffer
The information from
/proc/iomem has a lot of information about
PCI(e) windows and other things, so you may want to narrow down
what you look at. On the system above,
/proc/iomem has 107 lines
but only nine of them are for 'System RAM', and all but one of them
are in the physical memory address range that
lsmem lumps into
the 'low' 3.5 GB:
00001000-0009d3ff : System RAM 00100000-09e0ffff : System RAM 0a000000-0a1fffff : System RAM 0a20b000-0affffff : System RAM 0b020000-d17bafff : System RAM d17da000-da66ffff : System RAM da7e5000-da8eefff : System RAM dbac7000-ddffffff : System RAM
(I don't have the energy to work out how much actual RAM this represents.)
Another view of physical memory range information is the kernel's report of the BIOS 'e820' memory map, printed during boot. On the system above, this says that the top of memory is actually 0x81f37ffff:
BIOS-e820: [mem 0x0000000100000000-0x000000081f37ffff] usable
I don't know if the Linux kernel exposes this information in
You can also find various other things about physical memory ranges
in the kernel's boot messages, but I don't know enough to analyze them.
What's clear is that in general, a modern x86 machine's physical memory ranges are quite complicated. There are historical bits and pieces, ACPI and other data that is in RAM but must be preserved, PCI(e) windows, and other things.
(I assume that there is low level chipset magic to direct reads and writes for RAM to the appropriate bits of RAM, including remapping parts of the DIMMs around so that they can be more or less fully used.)